“Give it your all!” was a statement I often heard throughout life. While I generally always did that in whatever people were referring to, I often took that statement way too far by going to the extreme. What I’ve come to understand these days though is that life is a lot more about learning something called moderation.
For a person like me, who once regularly indulged in quite a number of addictions, moderating anything was next to impossible. Instead, my normal way of thinking was that more alcohol, more drugs, more cigarettes, more porn, more sex, more spending, more traveling, or more anything, would make me feel better. But in the long run, it never did and yet I kept on doing it. By the time I found sobriety from alcohol and drugs, that pattern was well established within me in just about every aspect of my life. I didn’t begin to notice this though until meditation helped me to slow down my thinking and see things a little clearer.
That was when I started to see those extremes in various areas of my life such as working out at the gym several times a day, for hours at a time. Or instead of taking a leisurely bike ride, I would go out full force biking 10 to 15mph for over 27 miles. One very good example of this was when I used to live on an island that was close to a beach. There was a remote area on that beach that was about a 6 to 7 mile walk from the closest parking lot. It essentially was the tip of the island and the only way most people got there was by a 4×4 vehicle that can operate on the sand. One day I decided I was going to be one of the few who has walked that entire way. So I set out doing just that with just a few bottles of water in my hand. By the time I reached that point, I was out of water, exhausted, my legs were shot, and I knew there was no way I was going to make it back on foot. Thankfully, God brought someone to my rescue in the form of a fisherman who drove me back in his Jeep.
Sadly, that was the pattern I was doing in everything in my life. While meditation helped me to see this and temporarily find moderation with things, at some point I got away from doing it and that pattern quickly returned. That’s when I started pushing myself to the limits again and where I returned to my addictive behaviors. Unfortunately, all of that eventually ended up making me sick, actually very sick, when one day my body began developing one physical pain after another.
Over these past few years, my physical limitations have actually become a blessing in disguise. They have really helped me to learn how to do things in moderation. I can’t walk for long distances right now and sometimes a walk is for just a few minutes. Yesterday, I walked back out onto Lake Erie by myself as it’s still frozen over quite solid, In the distance was this island that was a good mile and a half, which normally you could only access by boat. On that particular day, my pain levels were drastically less than usual and I felt pretty good. I began walking towards that island and by the time I had gone about half way to it, this small voice within me said not to go any further. And you know what? I didn’t. The old me would have though. Instead, I lay down on the ice, with not a person in sight, and looked up in the sky and thanked God for that experience. It was breathtaking. But the best part about it? I was able to walk back home without needing any help!
The moral of this story is pretty simple. The life of an addict is one of extremes, whereas the life of a person on a spiritual journey is one of moderation. Thank God, I have learned this lesson and been able to rewire my thinking to allow for it. I know at some point my chronic pain is going to end, and when it does, I know I’ll be able to moderate myself much better in everything I do.
So if you happen to be someone like I once was, who’s known for going to the extreme, you may want to take a moment, breathe, and really try to start cutting back from that and slowing yourself down a little. Because if you don’t, at some later point, either your mind, body, or soul is going to fight back and force you to learn how to find moderation in things. While there is no moderation with addictions, there is with just about everything else in life. Try practicing it, and you’ll probably find yourself becoming a lot healthier in life.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson